Amazon aims to make Alexa assistant bigger part of users' lives

phys.org | 9/21/2018 | Staff
fofo (Posted by) Level 3
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From the kitchen to the car, Amazon on Thursday sought to make its Alexa digital assistant and online services a bigger part of people's lives with an array of new products and partnerships.

Updates to the internet giant's Alexa-infused Echo smart speakers will allow them to tend to microwave cooking and even have "hunches" regarding what users may want or have forgotten.

Alexa - Corn - Cob - Echo - Speaker

When Alexa is told "corn on the cob," a digital Echo speaker starts an AmazonBasics microwave oven in a faux home demonstration room, setting the preferred time and voicing what it is doing.

But when asked to add 30 seconds, Alexa paused and then started to play songs by the band "Thirty Seconds to Mars."

Misunderstandings - Speakers - Fodder - Humor - Amazon

Such misunderstandings are routine enough with smart speakers that they have become fodder for humor, and even cropped up while Amazon devices and services senior vice president David Limp showed off new devices in a nearby building a short time earlier.

Alexa has gotten smarter, more conversational and even intuitive during the past year as teams at Amazon work hard on getting the digital assistant to better understand people, according to Limp.

Alexa - Personality - Pet - Beer

Alexa is even developing a personality, complete with a favorite pet or beer.

It has also learned to understand whispers, responding in equally hushed tones in a feature to be rolled out in the coming weeks.

Amazon - Feature - Alexa - Hunches - Assistant

Amazon teased a coming feature called Alexa Hunches that is designed to infuse the digital assistant with intuition. For example, when a user bids Alexa a good night, it might respond by mentioning they forgot to lock a door.

Alexa uses artificial intelligence to identify patterns in the lives of users, factoring in weather, time of year and more. To know what is happening with other smart devices in a home, the Echo speaker needs to be connected to them.

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